An Anti-ACLU Rant for 5/4/06
HT to Matt at Peace Through Strength for the link:
Matt makes the following observation:
Now, time for my little rant...
1st Amendment to the United States Constitution:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...
In no way do those words imply that We the People or even our government are prohibited from making a reference to God, in any way, shape, or form. Actually it's quite the opposite. God is not a religion, nor is the government choosing your religion (unlike many Islamic countries).
The following post shows the usual ACLU "Anti-Christian Legislation Union" posturing:
Thursday, April 07, 2005
By Bill Toland, Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau
HARRISBURG -- The national statement of faith, "In God We Trust," has been appearing on coins since 1864, and has been the country's motto since 1956. But should it be appearing in each of Pennsylvania's tens of thousands of public classrooms?
A proposed law, now awaiting action in the state House, would require the motto to appear in every public school classroom, auditorium and cafeteria in Pennsylvania.
If it gains steam, the "National Motto Display Act," as it's being called, is likely to begin a battle pitting familiar foes -- proponents say it's an historical motto that harmlessly brings a little bit of God into schools, while opponents say it's a possible breach of the church-state wall.
"It sounded right to me," said Rep. Bob Bastian, R-Somerset, recalling the first time the bill crossed his desk. Bastian is one of the bill's sponsors. "We're a country that was formed by Christian-thinking people, and we need to continue to have our trust in God."
Each year brings new God-in-the-schools scuffles. Last year, there were court battles over the Pledge of Allegiance, and whether the phrase "one nation, under God" represented a government endorsement of a particular religion. In York County, parents and the Dover Area school board are still fighting over whether the term "intelligent design" -- offered as an alternative to evolutionary theory -- should be made part of a high school biology course.
The "In God We Trust" campaign new to Pennsylvania, but not to other states. Legislatures in South Carolina, Virginia, Mississippi, Ohio, Utah and Louisiana, among others, have either approved the display of the motto in public classrooms, or have at least discussed such measures.
In Pennsylvania, House Republicans are the main backers of the "In God We Trust" proposal, though three Democrats also put their names to the bill.
The bill says the display of the motto -- and an explanation of its origin -- is part and parcel of a well-rounded civics education, the same as a review of the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, the Pledge of Allegiance, national anthem, important court decisions and texts written by the founding fathers.
"A proper understanding of United States history and government is essential to good citizenship," the bill says. The bill says nothing, though, of "Christian-thinking" founders.
The prime sponsor is Rep. Tom Creighton, R-Lancaster. Creighton has also submitted a bill related to the Dover "intelligent design" controversy, which would create a state law allowing "a board of school directors [to] include, as a portion of [biology] instruction, the theory of intelligent design," whenever evolution is also discussed.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which historically has furrowed its brow when the word "God" is required to be mentioned in a public school, has previously registered its disapproval over the "intelligent design" requirement. The ACLU likewise disapproves of the "In God We Trust" bill.
"We believe that we should respect the religious viewpoints of all people, and that not everybody in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania subscribes to the religious beliefs included in this motto," said Larry Frankel, legislative director of the ACLU's Pennsylvania chapter.
Frankel also cast his own doubts on the idea that the motto is an educational tool.
"I'm not sure what the historical value really is, [if] it's going to be posted in the school cafeteria," he said.
The American Family Association, whose mission is to "equip citizens to change the culture to reflect Biblical truth and traditional family values," is the primary mover behind the "In God We Trust" campaign, and has said one of its goals is to put the motto in every classroom in America. Often, if a school district can't afford the posters, or thinks it shouldn't pay for them with taxpayer money, the association donates them.
The group has seen success, in varying degrees.
Three years ago in Utah, a state legislator sponsored a bill that would have required "In God We Trust" in every public school classroom. Later, the bill was modified to require that the motto appear in at least one place somewhere in the school building, but not necessarily in each classroom. The bill then became law.
More recently, in Ohio, lawmakers wrote a bill that would have forced all districts to purchase, at a $3 million total expense, an 11-by-14-inch framed copy of the motto for each classroom. But that bill died.
So far, 18 states have passed laws allowing the motto to be displayed. Most laws give the schools an option, but Virginia and Mississippi require the motto be displayed in each class.
Randy Sharp, director of special projects for the American Family Association, had harsh words for the ACLU.
"When you're talking about historical documents, there's no reason the motto shouldn't be posted in the schools," Sharp said. "But anytime a school board wants to put up the motto, the ACLU is the paper tiger on this issue -- they come in, throw around a bunch of toothless threats, and the school board backs down."
State laws, Sharp said, allow school boards to install the motto in classrooms without the fear of ACLU reprisal.
Locally, school districts in Bedford, Clarion, Clinton, Crawford, Mercer, Somerset and Venango counties have approved the display of the motto in their classrooms.
Supporters of the "In God We Trust" display say historical documents ought not to be subject to the typical state-church court inquiries -- after all, the Declaration of Independence mentions both "Nature's God" and man's "Creator," there is no clamor to remove that document from public schools. Besides, the "In God We Trust" motto is visible in other public buildings, so what's the big deal if it's in a public school?
"You can't walk through this Capitol without seeing hundreds of references to God," Bastian said. Many of the murals and stained-glass windows in the century-old Capitol building have religious themes, and in fact, the 26,000-ton dome that caps the building is modeled after St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.
But the ACLU and others note that while the motto appears on U.S. currency and in government buildings, in a ceremonial manner, the Supreme Court has distinguished between ceremonial religious expression in a general setting and religious speech directed specifically at public school students.
"Classrooms have always been treated differently," Frankel said.
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